Touching the Void (play)

Touching the Void is a play written by David Greig, based on the book of the same name by Joe Simpson. It made its world premiere at the Bristol Old Vic in September 2018, before embarking on a short UK and international tour. The play centres on the true story of Joe Simpson and Simon Yates, climb of the 6,344-metre west face of the Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes[1] in 1985.[2][3][4][5][6][7]

Touching the Void
Touching the Void play.jpeg
Written byDavid Greig
Date premiered18 September 2018 (2018-09-18)
Place premieredBristol Old Vic
Original languageEnglish
SubjectSurvival
Setting1985, Peruvian Andes

Production historyEdit

Touching the Void has been adapted for the stage by David Greig,[8] based on the 1988 book of the same name by Joe Simpson.[9] The book was previously adapted into a docudrama survival film in 2003.[10] On 8 November 2017, it was announced the play would receive its world premiere the following year[11] and would begin previews at the Bristol Old Vic on 8 September 2018,[12] with an official opening night on 18 September,[13] booking for a limited period until 6 October.[12] The production marked the reopening of the venue following refurbishment.[14]

The play is directed by the Artistic Director of Bristol Old Vic Tom Morris,[15] with movement direction by Sasha Milavic Davies,[16] design by Ti Green,[17] lighting design by Chris Davey[16] and composition and sound design by Jon Nicholls.[18] Following its premiere production Touching the Void embarked on a tour to the Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh and Royal & Derngate, Northampton with whom it was a coproduction.[19] Following its opening night in Bristol it was announced the play would also tour to Hong Kong City Hall, Hong Kong, Perth Theatre, Perth and Eden Court Theatre, Inverness.[20] [21] A typical performance runs two hours and forty minutes, including one interval of 30 mins.[12]

Following completion of the tour Touching the Void transferred to the Duke of York's Theatre in London's West End for a limited run, running from 9 November 2019 until 29 February 2020.[22]

The script of Touching the Void was published by Faber and Faber on 6 September 2018.[23][24]

SynopsisEdit

The play is set in 1985, on Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes. It follows Joe Simpson and Simon Yates as they climb the west face of the Siula Grande, becoming the first climbers to reach the summit using the west face. Descending down the north ridge tragedy struck as Simpson slipped down an ice cliff, breaking his right leg. With Simpson incapacitated Yates lowered Simpson off the North Ridge by tying two 150-foot lengths of rope together to make one rope. With worsening conditions, frost bite and complications with the knots Yates inadvertently lowered Simpson off a cliff and Simpson accidentally dropped one of the cords required to ascend the rope.

Simpson could not climb up the rope, Yates could not pull him back up, the cliff was too high for Simpson to be lowered down, and they could not communicate. Yates had to make the hard decision to cut the rope in order to save his own life. Yates cut the rope, plummeting Simpson down the cliff into a deep crevasse. Exhausted and suffering from hypothermia, Yates dug himself a snow cave to wait out the storm. Assuming Simpson was dead Yates carried on descending the mountain by himself.

Simpson, however, was still alive. He had survived the 150-foot fall despite his broken leg and had landed on a small ledge inside the crevasse. When Simpson regained consciousness, he discovered that the rope had been cut and realized that Yates would presume that he was dead. He therefore had to save himself. It was impossible for Simpson to climb up to the entrance of the crevasse, therefore his only choice was to lower himself deeper into the crevasse and hope that there was another way out. After lowering himself, Simpson found another small entrance and climbed back onto the glacier via a steep snow slope.

In all Simpson spent three days without food and with almost no water, crawling and hopping five miles back to their base camp. Exhausted and almost completely delirious, he reached base camp only a few hours before Yates intended to leave the base camp and return to civilisation.

Principal roles and original castEdit

Character[25] Bristol Old Vic & 2018/19 tour[15][26]
Joe Simpson Josh Williams
Simon Yates Edward Hayter
Richard Patrick McNamee
Sarah Fiona Hampton


ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Real life survival tale aims for new heights". edinburghnews.scotsman.com/. Edinburgh Evening News. 14 December 2018. Retrieved 14 December 2018.
  2. ^ "Touching the Void: Joe Simpson on how his struggle with death became a play". thetimes.co.uk. The Times. 20 September 2018. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  3. ^ "Touching the Void at Bristol Old Vic". thetimes.co.uk. The Times. 20 September 2018. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  4. ^ "'We need to hear bone splintering!' – Touching the Void crashes on to the stage". theguardian.com. The Guardian. 5 September 2018. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  5. ^ "Touching the Void, Bristol Old Vic, review: a stirring testament to human fortitude and the power of theatre". telegraph.co.uk. The Telegraph. 20 September 2018. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  6. ^ "'Putting on a popular play won't cut it in the Netflix age. We must do more'". thetimes.co.uk. The Times. 8 September 2018. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  7. ^ "Touching the Void is the Old Vic at the peak of its theatrical powers". bristolpost.co.uk. Bristol Post. 19 September 2018. Retrieved 22 October 2018.
  8. ^ "Touching the Void to be brought to the stage in Edinburgh". scotsman.com. The Scotsman. 8 November 2017. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  9. ^ "David Greig on Local Hero, Touching the Void and the rest of the Royal Lyceum's 2018/19 season". scotsman.com. The Scotsman. 7 May 2018. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  10. ^ "Return to Siula Grande". theguardian.com. The Guardian. 21 November 2003. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  11. ^ "Bristol Old Vic announces Touching the Void and The Cherry Orchard adaptations for 2018". whatsonstage.com. Whats On Stage. 8 November 2017. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  12. ^ a b c "Touching the Void". bristololdvic.org.uk. Bristol Old Vic. 8 September 2018. Retrieved 23 September 2018.
  13. ^ "New Tour Dates Announced For Tom Morris' Production Of TOUCHING THE VOID". broadwayworld.com. Broadway World. 18 September 2018. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  14. ^ "Bristol Old Vic £26m facelift lets audience play with 18th century Thunder Machine". inews.co.uk. i. 17 September 2018. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  15. ^ a b "Bristol Old Vic and Edinburgh Lyceum announce casts for Touching the Void and Twelfth Night". whatsonstage.com. Whats On Stage. 24 July 2018. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  16. ^ a b "Touching the Void on stage: theatre climbing to new heights". whatsonstage.com. Whats On Stage. 24 August 2018. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  17. ^ "Touching the Void designer Ti Green: 'This job is not just choosing the chairs, it's shaping the narrative'". thestage.co.uk. The Stage. 24 September 2018. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  18. ^ "Touching the Void review at Bristol Old Vic – 'gripping, inventively staged survival story'". thestage.co.uk. The Stage. 19 September 2018. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  19. ^ "Touching the Void (Bristol Old Vic)". whatsonstage.com. Whats On Stage. 19 September 2018. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  20. ^ "New Tour Dates Announced For Tom Morris' Production Of Touching The Void". theatreweekly.com. Theatre Weekly. 18 September 2018. Retrieved 23 September 2018.
  21. ^ "Touching the Void". fueltheatre.com. Fuel Theatre. 8 September 2018. Retrieved 23 September 2018.
  22. ^ "Touching the Void stage play to transfer to the West End". whatsonstage.com. Whats On Stage. 13 May 2019. Retrieved 24 May 2019.
  23. ^ "Touching the Void". faber.co.uk. Faber and Faber. 6 September 2018. Retrieved 14 October 2018.
  24. ^ Greig, David (3 September 2018). Touching the Void. Faber and Faber. ISBN 9780571352241.
  25. ^ Greig, David (3 September 2018). Touching the Void. Faber and Faber. p. 1. ISBN 9780571352241.
  26. ^ "Touching the Void Cast". lyceum.org.uk. Royal Lyceum Theatre. Retrieved 18 October 2018.